Late Detroit News editor Wolman honored at Rosa Parks Scholarship ceremony

Payne Lubbers
The Detroit News
The 2019 Rosa L. Parks Scholars pose for a group photo at their luncheon.

Detroit — The late Detroit News editor and publisher Jonathan Wolman was honored Thursday afternoon by the awarding of a scholarship in his name during the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation luncheon at Wayne State University.

Every year, the foundation presents $2,000 scholarships bearing the name of Parks, the late civil rights activist and longtime Detroit resident, to Michigan high school seniors. This year, an additional award was handed out in honor of Wolman, who died in April at age 68. 

Kim Trent, president of the foundation, said she was grateful for Wolman's commitment to supporting the foundation and the scholarship. 

2019 Rosa Parks Scholars plan to change the world

Jonathan Wolman

"He was not a native Detroiter, but he embedded himself into the fabric of southeast Michigan and made sure the paper he helmed also stayed connected to the community and served in meaningful ways," she said. 

Wolman's widow, Deborah Lamm, presented the award to Maya Solomon, a recent graduate of Cass Technical High School. Lamm said her husband spoke highly of the young people he met in the Detroit community during his time at the paper. 

"He was energized and humbled by the passions, and the dreams and the accomplishments often, as many of you know, against great odds," she said.

Wolman served as editor and publisher of The Detroit News for 12 years starting in 2007. He also was executive editor and Washington bureau chief of the Associated Press in a career that spanned more than four decades.

"He would've been honored and humbled to have been recognized here today," Lamm said. "The young people of Detroit represent the future, and we look forward to all they will accomplish."

Maya Solomon of Cass Technical High School, left, hugs Deborah Lamm, widow of Detroit News editor and publisher Jon Wolman, as she receives the Jon Wolman scholarship on Thursday.

Solomon said she was honored to be the recipient of two awards named after prominent Metro Detroiters. 

She will be attending Florida A&M University in the fall and hopes to become a civil rights attorney. She said Parks' legacy greatly inspired her. 

"It's really such an honor because I know that Rosa Parks stood up for what she believed in, and I plan to do the same types of things," she said. "I'm very into social justice, advocacy, fighting for what's right for people."

The News' current editor and publisher, Gary Miles, presented two additional awards on behalf of the paper to Aja Gaines of Cass Technical High School and Jade Rodriguez, of University Prep Science and Math High School. 

Keynote speaker the Rev. Larry L. Simmons addressed the students and their families, and asked students what it means to be a recipient of the scholarship. Simmons' son, Jamal, is a former recipient of the scholarship and works as a political analyst and television commentator.  

Aja Gaines, left, from Cass Technical High School, is presented with the Detroit News / Rosa Parks Scholar certificate by Detroit News Editor and Publisher Gary Miles as he shakes hands with fellow recipient Jade Rodriguez, from University Prep Science.

"When you take the name 'Rosa Parks Scholar,' you're not merely a recipient of a little bit of money that comes from the foundation," Simmons said. "You are shifted into the history of struggle in the world, that you are now named after one of its premier heroes."

The foundation was founded by The Detroit News and Detroit Public Schools and is supported by the Butzel Long law firm. Its mission is to provide scholarships to Michigan high school seniors who "hold close to Mrs. Parks' ideals while demonstrating academic skills, community involvement and economic need."